Week SEVEN was the first time that a blank was drawn as Waiting Patiently (0pts) failed to turn up at Cheltenham for a valuable handicap chase on New Years Day and instead looks poised to head to Ascot for the Grade 1 Clarence House Chase in a fortnight’s time. That is a bonus race so he will retain his place but confidence would not be high at the top-level after a long absence. On top of that Kilbricken Storm (0pts) faded into just third place in the Grade 1 Challow Hurdle at Newbury.
New also arrived midweek that Samcro, who was brought back in last week, scoped dirty and will miss his intended run at Naas in the Grade 1 Lawlors Of Naas Novices Hurdle. Highly disappointing!
This week is a recovery mission and so We Have A Dream has been brought back in as he lines up in the rearranged Grade 1 Juvenile Finale (25pts) at Chepstow. He struggled on bad ground in France but has apparently strengthened up since then and on his two runs so far this season he is the one to beat with Sussex Ranger his biggest danger. Losing his place in the line-up is The New One. Also at Chepstow, a hail mary pass attempt has been made with rank outsider Rathlin Rose in the Welsh Grand National (50pts). He had entries for this and the Sussex National at Plumpton on Sunday, both of which are bonus races. With just seven runs in chases, the newly turned 10yo is still relatively unexposed and was a co-favourite for a valuable handicap at Haydock last season and just 8/1 for the Grand Sefton at Aintree over the National fences. Ideally, he would have gone to Plumpton in the weaker race but he ends up here. He takes the place of Kilbricken Storm.
Over at Sandown the Grade 1 Tolworth Novices Hurdle (25pts) has attracted two very useful types in Western Ryder and Kalashnikov. The latter brings much better form to the table and is brought in but it wouldn’t be a surprise if trainer Amy Murphy landed her first Grade 1 with her stable star. Western Ryder was fifth in the Champion Bumper but has jumped well enough in his last two after unseating on his seasonal reappearance. In these conditions, his classy grinding style is hopefully going to be the difference between the pair.
Either way, points need to be scored this week…..